|B-side "Please Love Me Forever"|
Writer(s) Carl Sigman, Charles G. Dawes
"It's All in the Game" was a 1958 hit for Tommy Edwards. Carl Sigman composed the lyrics in 1951 to a wordless 1911 composition titled "Melody in A Major," written by Charles G. Dawes, later Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge. It is the only No. 1 single in the U.S. to have been co-written by a U.S. Vice President or a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The song has become a pop standard, with cover versions by dozens of artists, some of which have been minor hit singles.
Edwards' song ranked at No. 38 on Billboard's All Time Top 100.
Melody in A Major
Dawes, a Chicago bank president and amateur pianist and flautist, composed the tune in 1911 in a single sitting at his lakeshore home in Evanston. He played it for a friend, the violinist Francis MacMillen, who took Dawes's sheet music to a publisher. Dawes, known for his federal appointments and a United States Senate candidacy, was surprised to find a portrait of himself in a State Street shop window with copies of the tune for sale. Dawes quipped, "I know that I will be the target of my punster friends. They will say that if all the notes in my bank are as bad as my musical ones, they are not worth the paper they were written on."
The tune, often dubbed "Dawes's Melody," followed him into politics, and he grew to detest hearing it wherever he appeared. It was a favorite of violinist Fritz Kreisler, who used it as his closing number, and in the 1940s it was picked up by musicians such as Tommy Dorsey.
"It's All in the Game"
In summer 1951, the songwriter Carl Sigman had an idea for a song, and Dawes's "Melody" struck him as suitable for his sentimental lyrics. Dawes had died in April of that year. It was recorded that year by Dinah Shore, Sammy Kaye, Carmen Cavallaro, and Edwards. The Edwards version had most success, reaching No. 18 on the Billboard Best Sellers In Stores survey. The range of the melody would have been "difficult to sing", so required rearrangement. A jazz/traditional pop arrangement was recorded by Louis Armstrong (vocals) and arranger Gordon Jenkins, with "some of Armstrong's most honey-tinged singing." Jenkins would in 1956 produce a version with Nat King Cole along the same lines.
In 1958, Edwards had only one session left on his MGM contract. Stereophonic sound recording was becoming viable and it was decided to cut a stereo version of "Game" with a rock and roll arrangement. The single was a hit, reaching number one for six weeks beginning September 29, 1958, and would be the last song to hit number 1 on the R&B Best Seller list. In November, the song hit No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart. The single helped Edwards revive his career for another two years.
In 1999, Edwards' stereo version was featured in the movie October Sky, based on the book Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, Jr. Hickam said it was his favorite song in high school, and insisted it be used in the picture. It was also featured in Barry Levinson's Diner (1982) and the 1985 film Mischief.
"It's All in the Game" has been recorded by different artists. Other notable versions include: